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Hugh Ross and Reasons to Believe

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We recently received a question from an online visitor about the ministry known as Reasons to Believe.  Please understand that the response below is not meant to question anyone’s faith, but I am required to respond honestly.

From: Stephen S

Subject: Old Earth

What is your position regarding Reasons To Believe


Stephen, thank you for your question.

I want to preface my response by saying that I learned a great deal about Reasons to Believe while attending The Institute for Creation Research Graduate School.  At the time I attended the librarian was James Stambaugh who also happened to be ICR’s Hugh Ross watchdog.  Jim had a rather large file of material on Ross and Reasons to Believe including correspondence and documentation of encounters they had with him.  I managed to wade through several thousand pages of material that really opened my eyes to Ross and his ministry.

Reasons to Believe is a ministry that teaches what is best described as progressive creationism or more accurately, progressive evolution.  They believe in billions of years, stellar evolution, chemical evolution and geological evolution.  When it comes to biology, they believe that God created in stages.  God would create a number of different animals that would eventually go extinct over millions of years and then He would create another group and so on.

Hugh Ross, the founder and director of Reasons to Believe has often told people that nature is the 67th book of the Bible and that death is a good thing.  On more than one occasion, I’ve heard and read where Ross placed the accuracy of science over the Bible.  When the two disagree, he turns to science first.

Ross continues to teach that young earth creationists who believe in speciation believe in evolution, even when we repeatedly explain the differences between the two.  He also teaches that there was a race of soulless hominids (Neanderthals) that buried their dead, made jewelry and painted on cave walls.  At one time he taught these soulless hominids lived over 50,000 years ago.  When other evolutionary dating methods placed them younger, around 35,000 years ago, he changed his teaching.

While attending ICR, Jim Stambaugh told me of an incident involving Ross that had taken place a couple years earlier.  Jim, Dr. John Morris and Dr. Duane Gish had all tried to arrange a public debate with Ross for quite a while, but Ross always had a reason why it could not take place.  Ross was speaking in Los Angeles so Jim drove up to sit in and listen to what Ross had to say.  He was shocked when Ross told a large audience that he had been trying to debate Jim and John Morris but they kept refusing (when in reality it was Ross that always refused).  During the next break, Jim worked his way to where Ross was answering questions and introduced himself to Ross.  He said Ross’ jaw about hit the floor.  Jim told Ross in front of everyone that he had been trying to arrange debates for years but Ross always backed out.  He then challenged Ross to a debate then and there.  Ross stammered and then finally told Jim to contact his office to arrange the debate.  Jim tried for years afterward and Ross never agreed to a debate.  Ross openly lied to his audience and then lied to Jim’s face.

When I was working for Answers in Genesis, I had opportunity to try to arrange a debate between Ken Ham and Hugh Ross, as Ross told everyone he would welcome such a debate.  After several years of failed attempts, I finally spoke with Ross’s number two man, Fuzz Rana who told me that he would be glad to arrange a debate.  From that point on, I could not get Rana or anyone else from Reasons to Believe to answer my calls, emails or letters.  Ironically, I heard from a number of people who attended various Ross seminars and they all told me that he was telling the audiences that he has tried to arrange a debate with Ken and that Ken always turned him down.  I know for a fact that these were deliberate lies told to build himself and his ministry up while tearing down Answers in Genesis.

While working at AiG, I became good friends with a number of prominent creationists, both scientists and theologians.  One of those was Dr. Russell Humphreys.  Russ told of a time when Ross visited Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  While there, Ross talked about the Hebrew word for day in Genesis could mean almost any length of time.  He made himself sound like a Hebrew expert.  At lunch Russ asked Ross in Hebrew if he spoke Hebrew.  Ross smiled and nodded, obviously not having a clue what Russ had said.  Russ repeated the question in Hebrew a second time and again Ross smiled and nodded.  Russ then asked him if he had any clue what he had said and Ross admitted that he didn’t.  Russ told him what he had said in Hebrew and then accused Ross of not knowing enough Hebrew to be giving a public exegesis on Hebrew words.  Russ then proceeded to inform Ross of the accurate use of the Hebrew word for day (yom) and how as it was written in Genesis 1 could not mean anything other than a literal 24 hour day.  Ross’ face turned red in anger and when he left, he shook everyone’s hand except Russ’.

Since Ross was heading to Los Alamos National Laboratory next, Russ contacted his friend and colleague Dr. John Baumgardner and told him what had happened.  John later reported that Ross said the exact same things at Los Alamos that he had said at Sandia.  John asked him about his conversation with Russ and Ross got furious and walked away from him.

There have been other instances where Ross has been confronted about inaccurate and false teachings he made publicly, but he would always continue to repeat the inaccuracies, lies and accusations at the next talk and the next one after that.  He and his staff have repeatedly lied about ICR and AiG debates and they lied to me.

As for Ross’ teaching on the Hebrew word yom, I looked up every reference he used to justify that yom could mean anything other than a literal 24 hour day.  In EVERY instance, the references he gave used either the plural forms of yom (yamim, etc.) or they involved a prepositional phrase, for example, in the days of.  Hebrew is often just like English in that the context of how it is used determines the meaning.  If you read something in English that said ‘he did this in one day’, you would know what they meant.  If they said, ‘in my father’s day’, you would know that it meant more than a 24 hour day because of the prepositional phrase it was used in.

When you look at how yom is used in Genesis 1, there are no prepositional phrases nor is the plural form used.  Ross never mentions any of this, but continues to use exegesis that would give him a failing grade in any Hebrew class I know of, but he continues to make people think he is a Hebrew scholar.

Having been involved in communications with Reasons to Believe, reading several thousand pages of correspondence and writings, transcribing numerous talks of Ross and the numerous interviews with people who have had firsthand encounters with Ross and his ministry, I cannot and would not recommend his ministry or any of their material to anyone.

Like I said earlier, I in no way question his faith, but I do question his moral character.  Anyone who has been repeatedly shown that they have lied and taught inaccuracies and then continue to tell the same lies and teach the same inaccuracies in the name of Jesus Christ, I have a major problem with their moral character.  Next to someone who blasphemes God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit, I absolutely despise someone who habitually lies and Hugh Ross has repeatedly lied and done so publicly.  As Christ publicly rebuked the Pharisees and those selling in the temple, I feel it my duty to be honest in what I have reported and rebuking Ross publicly.  I and others have done so many times and it has made no difference.  Just as Scripture says to run away from false teachers, whenever you encounter anything or anyone involved with Reason to Believe, turn and run away.  The best description of Reasons to Believe can be found in 2 Peter 2:1:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies,…

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  • Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D.
  • Nils Jansma

    I read this article with interest because I know Hugh Ross to be a principled man who doesn’t lie as the author suggests. For example, the author made a big issue about debating and the failure of the parties to come together. From his perspective he accused Ross of lying. However, he didn’t tell you the reason for why both sides could honestly say that the other was refusing to debate. Because of past experience with debating Young Earth creationists, one is hesitant to become involved without some preconditions. To illustrate such a circumstance, I have copied down why Dr. Ross and Dr. Humphreys were unable to arrange an agreeable venue. The quote goes as follows:
    [Ross speaking] … I know several other astronomers who have tried to engage him [Dr. Humphreys] in dialogue. From our perspective, his response is always the same. He ignores the main points we raise and deals instead with side issues. He looks for every opportunity to attack our credentials, character, and competency. Is it really rational to believe that all of Dr. Humphreys’s critics are incompetent and lacking in integrity and Christian principles? For these reasons I have informed Dr. Humphreys and his associates that I will engage in future debates or dialogues with him only in the presence of physicists and astronomers. I have already offered to dialogue with him in front of the physics and astronomy departments at the University of Texas and at Arizona State. Both faculties include Christian scholars.
    [End of Quote]
    I am sure that a similar circumstance applied to any debate with Ken Hamm or the ICR staff. So, who is the liar? If one group fails to agree to the above arrangement, which party is guilty of lying if they both say that the other side will not debate? Because the author claims to have read “several thousand pages of material” dealing with Hugh Ross, he must be aware of these circumstances. If that is the case, though the author may not be guilty of lying, he is certainly guilty of not telling “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
    For that reason alone, I would not put too much stock in the above article. It appears to be an ad hominem attack similar to that described by Hugh Ross above and confirmed because the article included Dr. Humphreys’ supposed put-down of Ross regarding the Hebrew word “day.” Apparently, Dr. Humphrey was born with a clear knowledge of Hebrew because he doesn’t understand the concept of being taught by experts who may not necessarily agree with him. I am sure that Ross has a good basis for syntactically describing the word “day” as meaning something other than a 24-hour day, especially since the sun and moon were not even created according to the Young Earth theory of creation.

    In conclusion, I want to add a brief conundrum the Young Earthers have as demonstrated by the two verses below.
    Genesis 1:6-7 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” (7) So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so.
    Genesis1:16-18 God made two great lights–the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. (17) God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, (18) to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.

    In Genesis 1:6-7 we are told God created an expanse with “water above it.”
    In Genesis 1:16-18 we are told that God created the Sun, Moon, and Stars and “set them in the expanse.” This means that the water of verses 6 & 7 were above the Sun, Moon and Stars which should be considered ridiculous.
    However, from a progressive creation standpoint, this is no problem because the waters (clouds) above the expanse dissipated revealing the Sun, Moon, and Stars to the apparent observer of the creation activity who is narrating the story. The evidence, based upon historical geology, strongly suggests that the creation account may have been a vision narrated over a seven day period to said observer who is likely to have been Moses. Each day of the creation vision concluded with an “evening and morning” which implies that it continued each night for six days.
    Nils Jansma

  • Joseph Hyde

    I just finished reading the above
    response to the question but I do not know who to address this too since I
    don’t find the name of the ‘answerer’ anywhere in the article or can I find it
    on the page, if this is a regular column, then I am not familiar with who
    authors it, so I will just comment make this comment…

    I’ve attended a number of Hurgh
    Rose’s Sunday School classes at his Sierra Madrea church and one seminar given
    by him.

    I’m glad to read this about your
    experience with him and his organization, Tks.

    The main reason that I am writing is
    that until recently I was not aware that there was or at least a possibility of
    another position outside of ‘Old Earth’, ‘Young Earth’, ‘Progressive
    Creationists’ or ‘Theistic Evolutionists’ that some subscribe too, until I met
    an individual on the Internet that had a different choice between ‘Old Earth’
    and ‘Young Earth’ Creationists which he refers to as ‘CEC’ or as
    ‘Changing Earth Creationist’ a position that I more identify myself with now
    then either of the ‘Old’ or ‘young’ Earth’s positions.

    His position may not sit well with either,
    especially his position on Science or ‘Science’ as we use it or understand it
    in relation to our Christian faith. That being said I do not agree with all of
    his positions or see the rational of some of his positions or statements in his
    blog posts but overall I think that his position is a ‘better fit’ with ‘the data’
    of scientific investigation, on both sides of the fence, of course
    not necessarily with the interpretation of all of the data, also
    realizing that there is or are ‘bad data’ and ‘good data’ and ‘cherry picking’
    of data as well…

    As an aside I do appreciate Gary
    DeMar as I see his face on an advertisement at the top of
    this page. If I remember right he has made the statement or observation, one
    that I have not heard mentioned at all outside of him in the ‘church vs State’
    debate about our U.S. Constitution, which is that our Constitution actually
    represents a loss of freedom and not a gain. I suppose then it could be argued
    that it could have been the start of our nations decline or where we find ourselves
    today. I would also suppose that Constitution or No Constitution that this
    nation would find it’s self in like straits when the majority of Christians in
    this nation, past and present, have not truly brought up their children in the ‘fear’
    and admonition of the Lord’, or have, ‘…if my people which are called by my
    name will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways then I will
    hear from Heaven … and will heal their land…’ etc. Certainly we have had
    problems that have merited such prayer from before our founding as a nation,
    especially from such colonies that were not even established for the express
    purpose of worshiping God unhindered by the State… I am assuming that in this
    nation as well as in ancient Israel that the Tares will always grow up with the
    Wheat and will need to be dealt with by God in his way and in His time.

    The reason that I mention Gary DeMar
    is because of that perspective on the Constitution may not necessarily be
    ‘mainstream’ among the Christian community, but it may be close to the truth
    and something that should be paid attention too. Likewise Victor McAllister
    over at: (main web site) (Blog)

    If ‘you’ had the time or resources
    to examine his contentions as it relates to ‘Old Earth’ or ‘Young Earth’ and
    especially about his contention(s) as they relate to Sciences or,
    again, ‘Sciences’ ‘First Principle’, I would be interested in your findings,
    and especially in his ‘hermeneutics’.

    I myself find his arguments
    convincing about Sciences First Principle and how it has affected our Science
    today. I do not understand or know if I understand all of his contentions as he
    means them but more often than not I tend to agree with him.

    After I ran into his website it
    changed my outlook on Science and Christianity’s attempt to reconcile it’s self
    with Science, or at least to show that Christianity is still relevant in this
    day and age. He changed or ‘impacted’ my understanding of the ‘framework’ that
    the ‘Christianity vs Science’ debate ‘sits in’ to a very large extent.

    I don’t have any degrees in any
    disciplines but I did grow up in the house of a university college high school
    physics, chemistry, astronomy, physical science professor teacher and I have
    attended a number of ‘ASA Annual Meetings’ so I have some exposure to the ideas
    of Science and Christianity from which I judge Victor McAllisters contentions
    for myself that is.

    In the realm of Science and
    Mathematics more than ‘religion’ another web site that impacted my feelings
    about where Physics and the science and mathematics has come to, is from
    another Internet web site that of a ‘paint splattered artist’ who also writes
    papers in physics, mathematics and a number of subjects such as Relativity,
    QED, QCD, Electromagnetism ect. I was unhappy with the present state of physics
    and was looking for something or someone that was not so ‘hidebound’ and which would
    maybe shed some light on these subjects, but I was
    initially disappointed because I didn’t find anything ‘new’ or
    ‘esoteric’ but after I read his ‘Preface’ and ‘Introduction’ and ‘what I
    have…’ I was mollified and kept on reading and my outlook on physics and
    science received some ‘adjustment’ so to speak. So much so I must confess that
    I feel that anyone doing science that is not aware of his contentions will be
    stuck in physics and the sciences present day dilemmas…! with the same
    fruitless results.

    His web site(s) are here: (science site) (art site) (Biography)

    The last
    thing to mention is a book that I recently came across on ‘Time’ which comes at
    it from a unique ‘perspective’ and that is ‘God Told Me So’ to put it bluntly… He
    says that it is not ‘conjecture’ or ‘theory’ that it is Fact, even though he contends
    that there may be mistakes in it due to his not paying the requisite ‘attention’
    when he should have been acting more as a scribe instead of indulging in ‘Monday
    Morning Mathematizing’ as he wrote out the equations and such, (in some people’s
    minds that may fall short of ‘inerrancy’, and it might) as it were… His source
    of information was not from ‘channeling’ or ‘automatic writing’ or some such if
    you’re wondering… I’ll give two URL’s that will explain as much as I knew, at
    least one of them when I ran across the book, which got my interest, I’ve
    bought seven copies so far, six to give away and one for myself and an ebook
    version for myself as well.
    (the publisher)
    (Big Think)

    The ‘Big
    Think’ title is misleading because it’s three dimensions of space and three
    dimensions of time, not six dimensions of time or even ‘spacetime’.

    I’m always
    interested about anything that deals with time in science or science fiction so
    when I ran across the book I read the back cover and when I read the ‘about the
    author’ section that’s when I decided to order the first copy for myself, I
    had, have not, finished it but ordered copies for others.

    Of course
    this brings us to ‘it’s either true or it isn’t’… That is ‘God told him how it
    is’ or it isn’t this way and God didn’t tell him. Seems pretty ‘clear cut’ to

    Well since I
    don’t have any degrees in science or mathematics I don’t have some of the
    requisite training to judge whether his contention is even ‘in the ball park or
    not’, and of course, most likely, those who do will find that it doesn’t, or
    doesn’t at all points, agree with their findings… such as can be had studying
    time or times ‘effects’ on physics as much as that may in fact be possible.

    Along with
    my contention that or maxim that ‘if you don’t know about something’ then what
    you know about something will most likely be wrong’ would mean that if his
    information is correct then much of our present day science will be in need of
    some revision… if not then it may just be an ‘interesting hypothesis’ but again
    he says it is not a hypothesis… So it will have to be judged on other merits.

    One very
    last thing to mention, from a recent lesson that I learned, is that the most
    important quality that you can bring to scientific investigation(s) is …
    Attitude. Which in my opinion will either open or close the doors to you of
    discovery and understanding. I don’t know if my idea of attitude is close to
    Einstein’s idea of imagination or not but approaching problems or discoveries
    with preconceived opinions can severely hamper one’s ability to investigate I

    There is a
    fine line to be walked between what one knows to be true and what one feels to
    be true and worthy or unworthy of further investigation. The ‘kicker’ is when
    we find out that what we know to be true is not, that is hard to swallow and
    believe! Sometimes things have to be ‘reframed’ in a larger context or to realize
    that we may be looking at a ‘limiting case’ or of a less general example of a
    situation that we believed was ‘the whole story’… and thus no further
    experiments are necessary, not ‘solving’ a solved problem. Maybe the hardest thing
    to realize is when there is not much ‘data’ or ‘anomalies’ to the contrary… to
    indicate a serious problem with our formulation.

    It’s been
    said that the best learning experience is teaching because it shows us what we
    know… and also we can learn why we know what we know is true, something more
    valuable still then just ‘knowing’.

    I’ve also
    learned that ‘bad examination’ is the rule and not the exception in Science as
    well as in the rest of life, for whatever reason. This is where the right
    attitude is so important, to do a thorough job of investigation of claims that
    are ‘outside the box’ or seemingly so. What is being said instead of what we
    think is being said, and it’s relation to the ‘Truth’ or at least to our truth.

    None of this
    means that Truth doesn’t exist or that we are not holding some of it but just
    to hold it ‘light enough’ so that we don’t distort it…


    Joe Hyde

  • Ephraim7

    First, I appreciate the narrative, exposing Hugh Ross as a liar. The scripture says, “..and all liars shall have their part in the Lake, which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death”. Now, since this website has exposed Hugh Ross, let us also expose ICR and (wrong) Answers in Genesis. Why is it that both entities run from the “Genesis Expert”, namely Herman Cummings…, the promoter of the “Observations of Moses”? I have challenged every creationist organization in the world, and they all hide. Just search the internet (“The Truth of Genesis: A Challenge Given to the Pope”, and “The Truth of Genesis: Creation Moments Runs Away from the Challenge”, etc), and all YEC organizations hide in the closet.

    The kettle can’t call the skillet “black”. If you are going to expose Hugh Ross of ducking someone that will expose his false doctrine, then also admit that ICR, Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, and all others also won’t debate someone with the truth of Genesis. Young Earth Creationism, just like “old” Earth Creationism, is false, and mis-represents the Word of God.

    So, practice what you preach. Just as I say in my articles at and, come meet me on Mt. Carmel. Let the harps play, and the trumpets blow. Let’s see who is teaching the truth of Genesis.

    Herman Cummings

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